3 new laws South Africa wants to introduce

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) will revive a number of bills which were not finalised when the fifth term of parliament ended in May 2019.

According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) there were 39 unfinished bills when parliament dissolved, with the NCOP only planning to revive 14 bills at its sitting on Thursday afternoon (17 October).

These bills cover a range of issues including cyber crimes and traditional courts.

Below BusinessTech looked at three of the most notable bills that are being revived and what they mean for South Africans.

Cybercrimes Bill

The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill focuses on criminalising the theft and interference of data and bringing South Africa’s cybersecurity laws in line with the rest of the world.

This includes:

  • Creating offences which have a bearing on cybercrime;
  • Criminalising the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders;
  • Imposing obligations to report cyber crimes;
  • Provide that the Executive may enter into agreements with foreign States to promote measures aimed at the detection, prevention, mitigation and investigation of cyber crimes amongst other matters.

While the majority of the bill focuses on criminalising the theft and interference of data, it has also introduced new laws surrounding any ‘malicious’ electronic communication.

Concerns have previously been raised about the ‘vagueness’ of these messaging rules, especially because of the steep consequences attached to them.

Notably, any person who contravenes one of the following provisions is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

  • A message which incites damage to property or violence;
  • A message which threatens persons with damage to property or violence;
  • A message which unlawfully contains an intimate image.

Child Justice Amendment Bill

The primary objective of the new bill is to increase the minimum age of criminal capacity of children from 10 years to 12 years – and to remove the requirement to prove criminal capacity for purposes of diversion and preliminary inquiries.

A diversion program is a form of sentence in which the criminal offender joins a rehabilitation program, which will help remedy the behaviour leading to the original arrest and avoid conviction and a criminal record.

The Traditional Courts Bill

The Traditional Courts Bill promises to shake up South African customary law by giving more power to Traditional Leaders in proceedings.

It also seeks to align traditional courts with the Constitution on issues such as dignity, equality, sexism and LGBTI rights.

The bill has faced controversy as it does not contain an ‘opt-out provision’ meaning a party cannot opt-out of proceedings being held in a traditional court, in favour of having the matter dealt with by the civil or criminal courts.

Some have also questioned whether the bill is a political ploy by the government to curry favour with traditional leaders.

Read: Government is proposing changes to South Africa’s new demerit system – and it’s a ‘nightmare’

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3 new laws South Africa wants to introduce